The U.S. women’s gymnasts made their mark in Sunday’s qualifications, sweeping the top three positions in a session that included Canada, France and Britain.

Gabby Douglas of Virginia Beach was brilliant on the uneven bars, posting a 15.333, and Aly Raisman vaulted her way to the overall scoring lead.

GALLERY: Click on the image above to see photos from the Olympics.

But while the strong showing by the team was expected, the order of their qualifying finish most certainly was not, as Liz Clarke explains.

The stunning development, when the final scores were tallied, is that reigning world champion Jordyn Wieber was third among them, overtaken on the final rotation by her teammate Aly Raisman, who seized the lead after a near error-free floor routine.

The upshot means that Wieber, who had been the favorite to claim the prestigious all-around title at the London Games, failed to qualify for that competition. Each country is limited to two athletes each, and Raisman and Gabby Douglas of Virginia Beach simply shone brighter on this day.

Wieber bobbled visibly during her balance beam on two occasions. She didn’t fall, but her score suffered for the glaring “balance checks.” Then, on the floor, she stepped out of bounds ever so slightly but enough to draw the official’s white flag, which meant further deductions.

Raisman, performing last among the Americans, pulled off a showstopper, scoring 15.325 to vault ahead of both Wieber and Douglas.

Raisman finished with 60.391 points; Douglas, 60.265; and Wieber, 60.032.

Wieber left the gym floor in tears, declining to speak with reporters, as did her coach, who later called the outcome “devastating.”

Absent Wieber’s heartbreak, it was a good day for the Americans, who finished with 181.863 points to claim a hefty lead in the standings. But 2008 Olympic gold-medal winners China had yet to compete, nor had perennial powers Russia and Romania.


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Graphic: 10 is no longer perfect in gymnastics